Flat White

When gender activism masquerades as good HR

27 February 2019

2:25 PM

27 February 2019

2:25 PM

The university thought police have developed a new tool to ensure their students think correctly.

Clubs at the University of New South Wales risk disaffiliation if their executives fail to complete a ‘gender misconduct’ course.

Among other things, the course requires students to rate the level of offensiveness of Tony Abbott’s comments that led to Julia Gillard’s famous misogyny speech.

But this is just the tip of the rainbow spear. The course also asks questions about the link between biology, sex and gender.

Students are asked whether the following statement is true or false: “Your gender is assigned based on your ­biology and your sex is assumed from your gender.” The correct answer being false.

However, if you did not answer correctly — or like me, did not understand the question — never fear. You will have another chance.

As a UNSW spokeswoman said: “If students answer incorrectly, they are given opportunities to amend their answer and should the answer continue to be incorrect, they are given the correct answer.” In other words, there is only one acceptable view regarding sex and gender at UNSW.

Ridiculous as it is, this story is another warning signal about the free speech crisis in Australian universities, which prompted the federal government to commission former High Court chief justice Robert French to conduct an inquiry into the issues.

The inquiry has been rejected by some higher education officials as an unjustified interference with university autonomy. University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence called the inquiry a “circus” and “uni bashing.”

But the UNSW case of gender activism masquerading as HR training points to the wider sources of free speech problems on campus.

Political correctness and identity politics is not only pushed in the classroom by academics. It is also pushed — as explained in Heath MacDonald’s book on the situation in the US — through university HR departments that promote ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’.

Compelling students to subscribe to ‘approved views’ on gender is a betrayal of university’s core function — which is to promote the maximum freedom of thought and expression.

Monica Wilkie is a policy analyst at the Centre for Independent Studies.

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